Saturday, May 19, 2012


My first introduction to lieder was Fischer-Dieskau singing Winterreise, but this Mahler is what I want to remember him for. The way he sighs that last word, "Traum"...

Monday, May 7, 2012

Ebsco Publishing ignores Irish Labour Court

No music in this one. Just a campaign for a fair payment. Ebsco Publishing took over The H. W. Wilson Company last year and made all staff redundant. It still won't follow the recommendation of the Irish Labour Court to make redundancy payments more in line with industry norms.
I wrote the following for our campaign blog, Wilson Pickets.

Why We Fight
If you’ve visited our Facebook page or signed our petition, or read the previous post on this blog, you’ll have noticed the imagery of David versus Goliath: we are 19 people taking on a multinational company. However, you might not have grasped the full meaning of this analogy. These days, when people think of a David-and-Goliath scenario, it’s in the context of a plucky underdog taking on a more powerful opponent and winning against the odds. But the story of David and Goliath is much more than that.
David didn’t win because he was especially brave, or because sometimes in true Hollywood fashion the little guy can beat the big guy, or because he got lucky, or even because a big sword is no match for a short-range ballistic weapon. He won because in the Biblical story there was a right side and a wrong side, and David was on the right side. All of Goliath’s size and strength were in fact irrelevant to the outcome of the fight, because Goliath was on the wrong side. And in real life, Ebsco’s market position and its profits and its assets ultimately have no bearing on this fight, because Ebsco too is on the wrong side.
Now, I don’t mean by this that Ebsco has done anything wrong. The company has met its legal obligations by providing redundancy payments that match the statutory minimum. You know when you help someone out and they thank you, and you modestly reply “It’s the least I could do” – well, that’s Ebsco. The company has, literally, done the least it could do.
Why is this not enough? Let’s take another look at the David and Goliath story. The reason David was on the right side was that God had already chosen him to be a future king. Our goals aren’t so exalted: all we want is for Ebsco to follow the recommendation of the Labour Court and offer a redundancy payment more in line with industry norms. We can’t claim divine right, but we do claim workers’ rights. We know that such rights come under threat every time a company chooses to ignore a vital mechanism for promoting good industrial relations. We know that every time a company decides not to play fair and gets away with it, it encourages other companies to do likewise and make a mockery of the system.
Although Ebsco seemed to demonstrate good faith by appearing before the Labour Court to defend its position, the company has so far ignored the court’s recommendation. And if you read the Bible you’ll see that Goliath and the Philistines also initially appeared to be interested in some form of arbitration. Instead of fighting an all-out battle, they proposed single combat to settle the issue – but when the result didn’t go the way they hoped, they turned and ran.
And so we’re now in pursuit of Ebsco, although we have no desire for conquest. We don’t want their heads. We just want a fair acknowledgement of the value of our years of work at H. W. Wilson, the fruits of which will continue to benefit Ebsco for many years to come.
We are not plucky underdogs.
We are on the right side.
And we will keep fighting until justice is done.